Year of

In late 2009, I made a realization and a declaration. I was still fairly new to working with fiber, especially spinning, and late in the year I noticed that I was developing a bad tendency to buy tools faster than I was learning how to use them. Spindles, spinning wheels, hand cards, more spindles. I was getting sucked into the pattern of buying something to get the cheap rush of something new, rather than engaging in the work that leads to deeper kinds of satisfaction: learning skills well, making quality pieces and enjoying them.

So I declared that 2010 was going to be the Year of Making Stuff. I commited to not buying any new fiber equipment for the entire year — no new tools. Instead I would use or learn to use what I already had, and see if I enjoyed it, and work on getting better at it.

It was a successful experiment. By actually using tools instead of just buying new ones, I got a much better idea of what I actually enjoy doing. I haven’t been nearly as tempted since by the lure of new shiny tools, because I have a handful of good tools I really enjoy using. I don’t need more tools to be happy.

When the Year of Making Stuff ended and 2011 crept in, it seemed like it ought to be a new Year of something. I didn’t know what to make it, because I didn’t feel a similar need to change or reject something as I had with fiber tools. I finally declared it the Year of Kindness, after a little bit (but not a lot) of thought, with the idea that I know I’m not always kind to myself, and I wanted to change that.

I won’t unequivocally say that 2011 wasn’t kind, but it was a drill-sargeant’s kindness, the sort that makes you strong by beating the weakness out of you, like it or not. I’m not sorry for the lessons of 2011, but they hurt. It wasn’t the sort of kindness I had in mind, even though I am stronger for them. Maybe with a little distance I’ll feel more gratitude; right now, gratitude for those things is an exercise of the will more than an easy expression of the heart.

Now we have a new year. In the late days of 2011 I thought about my previous declarations, not sure if I wanted to continue and not sure if I dared. Especially not after 2011 took my declaration for it in such a different direction than I had intended. I’m not totally sure I could face such a turn again; maybe there’s one in my near future, but I can’t bear to think about it, and I really don’t want to tempt it in. Even if it is good for me, I just can’t.

It took a few days of pondering, but I found my new declaration in the end. 2012 is the Year of Love. It is a dubious-sounding name, but a fiercely-intended one.

Last week I wrote about a hard depressive turn, where I couldn’t connect with any feeling of being loved and cared about. I wrote about finding a video from a researcher/storyteller who speaks about the need to believe that one is worthy of love in order to experience being loved. I get in my own way here, by not loving myself and not believing that I am worthy of love from other people too. That’s just wrong, and it’s a crappy way to live. I’m tired of it. I’m done with it.

If there is any way to change this belief, I will change it. I am choosing to love myself and learn how to love myself, actively and practically. I will invest love and care in me, regardless of any sense of worthiness or doubt, because the deepest love isn’t about loving the worthy. It’s about loving, period. Choosing to love, regardless. That’s what I want to offer myself, and once I can give it to myself, to offer other people too. That’s love with teeth: transformative love, the kind of love that really changes things.

I want to change things. I want to change me, and the world I live in. I need this kind of love in my life, and every other person alive does too. So I’m going to learn how, and I’m starting at the root. I’m starting with myself. Until I know how to offer love to myself, regardless, I won’t ever be able to offer it to anyone else.


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